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Meet New Westminster school board candidates: Kathleen Carlsen

Trustee hopefuls responded to our school board-focused questionnaire. Here's what they had to say.
Kathleen Carlsen school board
Kathleen Carlsen is running for New Westminster school board with the New West Progressives.

Name and pronouns: Kathleen Carlsen (she, her, hers)


Facebook: Kathleen Carlsen and New West Progressives

Instagram: @kathleencarlsen.sd40

Website: Kathleen Carlsen - NWP (

Twitter: @nwprogressives


Affiliation: New West Progressives


Tell us about yourself:

I am a wife and mother who lives in Massey Victory Heights with my loving family, cat and dog. I’m known by local families as “Miss Kathleen," through my work as a dance instructor and recreation leader with the City of New Westminster for 30 years. Being the DPAC chair for four years, I believe in leading with patience, empathy and integrity. I've been a NWSC manager, served on the MVHRA Board and established a not-for-profit society to promote Highland dance, all while supporting youth sports, the performing arts and my passion for children's safety and physical and mental health.


Why are you running for school board?

I want to work collaboratively towards the betterment of the school community and all students in the district. I have no predetermined or political agenda and will remain open-minded and respectful to students, parents, teachers and staff regarding the educational needs and safety of our students.


What do you think the current school board has done well? Where has it missed the mark? 


  • Opened wellness centre
  • Followed COVID guidelines


  • Transparency (full-time custodians, buses)
  • Removed Child and Youth Liaison Officer before having a plan in place
  • New reporting system, without addressing the real problem: violence prevention
  • Inadequately equipped portables
  • Lack of collaboration with parents and council
  • LRFP didn't look at projected growth


What are the top three issues facing the next school board? 

1. Safety and mental health / lack of space — see questions 6 and 7.

2. Lack of funds to adequately deliver quality instruction (need more EAs, support staff, resources for early assessments and support).

3. Building and repairing relationships with parents, city council and community partners.


How do you plan to address those issues? 

  • To strongly advocate for an increase in the overall operating grant per student. Underfunding affects every aspect of a child’s education, from educational resources to safety to maintenance to simple classroom cleanliness. We need to advocate for our students, families, staff and community for fully funded classrooms. This includes funding for more resources for early assessments, more EA’s and EA training, more support staff, daytime custodians, resource teachers and support workers for our students with special needs. We must make our advocacy efforts inclusive, strategic and successful.
  • To improve engagement with our partners we need to start with respect, be ready to truly hear the concerns of others and to listen to and learn from those who are in the schools every day. We also need to build a respectful relationship with city council and community stakeholders, including them in our discussions. Put simply: we need to work together.


New Westminster schools are facing a serious space crunch. What does the next board need to do to address it?

  • To advocate at the provincial level, alongside the city and the district, for more money and space, as well as advocating to change the funding model for new builds. Building for projected growth, not current enrolment, is the only way forward.
  • Work with city to look at bylaws to increase allowable building height for future schools.
  • An example of where working together could have proven beneficial to all: city and board together keeping the CGP building open. It could have been used for after-school programs, Strong Start programs or any other program necessary for our community.


Health and safety has been a topic of discussion on multiple fronts over the past few years. What are your health and safety priorities for New Westminster schools, and how will you address them? 

Safety and mental health are the most important issues facing our school community. We need to ensure students and staff feel safe in school. Violence in any form (bullying, threatening, intimidating, assault) is NOT acceptable and should not be a common occurrence in our schools. More funding is needed for mental health and learning challenges. I hope to build meaningful community partnerships with those that can help with safety and security in our schools, advocate to expedite early assessments, increase student to counsellor ratio and for a comprehensive and mandatory curriculum regarding personal relationships, consent education, accountability and sexual health.


 And just for fun: If you got to spend one full day in school again, what grade would you return to and why?

 Grade 11: involvement in the school band, sports and dance while receiving so much support from the school community was an incredibly positive experience.

Note: All candidates received the same questionnaire, including word limits. (If candidates ran over word limits, answers are cut off at the limit.) Contact information and social media details are presented as provided by candidates.